Stone Soup at Oak Park Farmers' Market

It takes a village to make a soup

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By David Hammond

Saturday, October 30, was the last Oak Park Farmers’ Market of 2010.


As is tradition, the Stone Soup stand was positioned near the Lake Street entrance, headed up by Melissa Wittenberg, OP Farmers’ Market Chairperson (in photo in warm-looking grey cap).


OPFM Commissioner Frank Pond told me that years ago, when this tradition started, home cooks would mix up a batch of Stone Soup and ladle it out,  no charge, on the last day of the market. 


Of course, making soup for public consumption in a home kitchen made health inspectors nervous. Now, the soup is prepared by professionals.  This year, the good folks at Maya del Sol donated their time and space to help continue this tradition.


You probably know the story behind the soup. Long ago, in a land far away, a famine hit and local people started hoarding and hiding whatever could be eaten.  Everyone was hungry.  One day, a guy threw a stone into a pot of boiling water and wondered aloud how much better the soup would be if he was able to get some cabbage or maybe a beef bone. Soon, villagers started offering a little bit of carrot or some potato to add to the soup, which became tastier as each person in the community made a small contribution. 


Serving this soup is an excellent way to underscore the importance of working together to make things better.


The soup served on the last day of the OPFM was very good, with a hearty simplicity.  Here’s the recipe:


1 cup good olive oil

4 medium onions

8 cloves garlic

5 stalks of celery, diced

2 pounds of potatoes, diced

1 pound hard squash, diced

1 pound greens (kale, cabbage), chopped

2 pounds tomatoes, diced

Fresh herbs: oregano, thyme, parsley

6 quarts of water

Salt and pepper to taste

1 stone (optional)


Saute onion, garlic, celery in olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add potato, squash, greens and tomato. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Add fresh tomato, herbs and water. Bring to a simmer, cook for an hour until vegetables are just soft. Season with salt and pepper.

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